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Archive for the category “USA”

Dutch Company Comes to the Rescue of US Offshore Wind

America has an archaic protectionist law called the Jones Act from 1920. The law says that transport between two American harbors can be done only with American-built ships with an American crew. This law effectively kills US offshore wind development before it gets a chance to be born, because America, as an offshore wind developing nation, doesn’t have the equipment to install offshore wind parks. Offshore wind technology is world-wide for more than 90% a North-West European affair, with installation vessels and crew all-European. European offshore installation in American waters violates the Jones Act.

The US has currently only one “windpark”, Block Island near NYC: 5 turbines with a 30 MW capacity, build by Europeans. When the Norwegian shipping company Fred Olsen crossed the Atlantic, the installation ship was not allowed to dock in a US harbor. This is not good for US offshore wind.

Now a Dutch company GustoMSC has come up with a simple design that can be constructed and operated by Americans and as such start the long overdue offshore wind development near the US coasts.

[gustomsc.com] – GustoMSC Reveals SEA-3250-LT
[wikipedia.org] – Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (“Jones Act”)
[deepresource] – The Seven Brothers – Europe Taking Lead in US Offshore
[deepresource] – The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea
[wattisduurzaam.nl] – Antieke wet frustreert offshore wind in VS, Nederland schiet te hulp

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Evaporation as a Renewable Energy Source?

A few basic facts about water:

Specific heat of water 4.2 kJ/kg/°C [*]
Heat of evaporation of water: 2256 kJ/kg [**]

[*] – energy required to increase temperature of water with 1 °C
[**] – energy required to turn 1 kg of water of 100 °C into vapor of 100 °C

In other words: it takes just as much energy to bring water from 46 °C to 100 °C as it takes to turn boiling water of 100 °C into water vapor of 100 °C. Or in other words: there is a lot of energy associated with phase change. That energy can be won back by condensing vapor back into water. This is what essentially happens in a steam engine: coal is used to heat water and turn it into steam. Next the steam is expanded in a cylinder where it is condensed. Part of the evaporation heat is converted into the desired mechanical energy or motion. Or think of stepping out of the shower dripping wet. You will feel cold because the drops on your body evaporate, which takes a lot of energy which is extracted from your body.

In nature evaporation and condensing of water happens on a gigantic scale, think of rain. Is there a way of capturing some of this energy for human purposes and convert it into useful energy? Scientists of the University of Columbia think there is. The place to generate electricity would by near the surface of lakes (uh-oh). Spores are attached to a surface, absorb water vapor and expand in volume. The useful energy is generated when the spores release the water as vapor which drives a motor. As MIT Technology Review previously reported:

“An eight-centimeter-by-eight-centimeter water surface can produce about two microwatts of electricity (a microwatt is one-millionth of a watt), on average, and can burst up to 60 microwatts.”

That would be 12.5 * 12.5 * 2 microwatt per m2 or 312 microwatt or 0.312 milliwatt/m2. Which is not too impressive to say the least. A solar panel of 1 m2 in contrast can bring you up to 150 Watt. That’s a difference of 48,000 in efficiency.

Next.

[nature.com] – Potential for natural evaporation as a reliable renewable energy resource
[theverge.com] – Water evaporation could be a promising source of renewable energy
[technologyreview.com] – Evaporation Engines Could Produce More Power Than Coal, with a Huge Caveat

“Assembling Offshore Wind-towers Onshore is Cheaper”

State of the art offshore installation. Can it really be done more economically than this?

The cheapest and fastest way to install an offshore wind turbine is to assemble it completely onshore first, including the monopile. That’s the outcome of research done by the University of Delaware. The method employed is to not work with a single large monopile ramed into the sea floor, but with several “buckets” that are suctioned into the sea floor at less depth and less acoustic impact for sea mammals. Starting base was a hypothetical large 1 GW offshore wind farm in the Delaware Wind Energy Area off Rehoboth Beach, Del., using the port near Delaware City and working with 10 MW turbines. Results: $1.6 billion less cost and only half the construction time.

[udel.edu] – Industrializing Offshore Wind Energy Development
[4coffshore.com] – Suction Bucket or Caisson Foundations
[offshorewind.biz] – University of Delaware

Read more…

Electric Flying Goes From Two to Four Passengers

[wikipedia.org] – Aero Electric Sun Flyer

Aqueous Sulfur Flow Battery for Ultralow-Cost Long-Duration Electrical Storage

MIT:

Here, we demonstrate an ambient-temperature aqueous rechargeable flow battery that uses low-cost polysulfide anolytes in conjunction with lithium or sodium counter-ions, and an air- or oxygen-breathing cathode. The solution energy density, at 30–145 Wh/L depending on concentration and sulfur speciation range, exceeds current solution-based flow batteries, and the cost of active materials per stored energy is exceptionally low, ∼US$1/kWh when using sodium polysulfide. The projected storage economics parallel those for PHS and CAES but can be realized at higher energy density and with minimal locational constraints.

[cell.com] – Air-Breathing Aqueous Sulfur Flow Battery for Ultralow-Cost Long-Duration Electrical Storage

Cleantechnica.com calls for caution:

[cleantechnica.com] – Sulfur Battery Promises Less Expensive Grid Scale Storage Solution

You can take this story with a grain of salt, literally and figuratively. Researchers at MIT, responding to a challenge issued by the US Department of Energy, have developed a new battery for use by utility companies to store electricity that costs 100 times less than the conventional lithium ion batteries in use today. The new battery uses sulfur, air, water, and salt — all readily available materials that are cheap to buy. The new battery has store twice as much energy as a typical lead acid battery. Their research was published for the first time on October 11 by energy journal Joule… Under the leadership of former Energy Department head Steven Chu, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research set a goal of reducing grid storage battery costs by a factor of five while increasing energy density also by a factor of five and all within five years… “Through an accidental laboratory discovery, we figured out that it could actually be oxygen, and therefore air. We needed to add one other component, which was a charge carrier to go back and forth between the sulfur and air electrode, and that turned out to be sodium.” The total chemical cost of their proposed battery is roughly $1 per kilowatt-hour. Since all the chemical components of the battery are dissolved in water, the researchers decided to use a flow battery architecture. In a flow battery, a system of pumps and tubes causes the components of the battery to flow past each other, generating chemical reactions that help it capture electrons… The sulfur-oxygen-salt battery under development currently has a useful life of 1500 hours — far less than the 20-year lifespan needed to attract commercial interest in the technology. The researchers have a long way to go yet, but the prospect of ultra low cost grid storage makes their quest worthwhile.

EasyJet Believes in Electric Flying

EasyJet says that electric flying could be with us in a decade and for that purpose has begun a partnership with US firm Wright Electric to build a battery-powered plane for two hours flight duration.

[theguardian.com] – EasyJet says it could be flying electric planes within a decade
[money.cnn.com] – Your airliner may be flying electric within a decade
[telegraph.co.uk] – EasyJet could be flying battery-powered electric planes within the next 10 years

Solar-to-Fuel System Recycles CO2 to Make Ethanol and Ethylene

Schematic of a solar-powered electrolysis cell which converts carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon and oxygenate products with an efficiency far higher than natural photosynthesis. Power-matching electronics allow the system to operate over a range of sun conditions. (Credit: Clarissa Towle/Berkeley Lab)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has designed a “competitor” for natural photosynthesis in plants in a setup where CO2 from the atmosphere is transformed into Ethanol (C2H5OH or CH3−CH2−OH or C2H5−OH) and Ethylene (C2H4 or H2C=CH2) using renewable electricity, with an efficiency far greater than in plants: 3-5% vs 0.2-2%.

[newscenter.lbl.gov] – Solar-to-Fuel System Recycles CO2 to Make Ethanol and Ethylene
[wikipedia.org] – Ethanol
[wikipedia.org] – Ethylene
[wikipedia.org] – Photosynthetic efficiency

Water Splitting Catalyst Breakthrough?

Molecular models representing a 2D heterostructure made of graphene (gray background hexagonal lattice), and islands on top of hexagonal WS2 and MoS, as well as an alloy of the two. Water (H2O) molecules in red (oxygen) and gray (hydrogen) come from the bottom left hand side and get transformed catalytically after interacting with the heterostructures into H2 bubbles (top right hand side). Credit: Penn State Materials Research Institute.

Platinum is a near perfect catalyst for splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The only drawback is that it is very expensive. Researchers from Houston, Penn State and Florida State University claim to have found a cheaper replacement: Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). A Swiss team already proposed this solution in 2011.

No efficiency numbers are given.

The Wiley link from 2016 mentions 12.4%

[phys.org] – Low cost, scalable water splitting fuels the future hydrogen economy
[phys.org] – Researchers report new, more efficient catalyst for water splitting
[pubs.rsc.org] – Amorphous MoS2 films as catalysts for electrochem. H2 prod. in H2O
[pubs.acs.org] – Amorphous Molybdenum Sulfides as Hydrogen Evolution Catalysts
[onlinelibrary.wiley.com] – MoS2 as a co-catalyst for photocatalytic hydrogen production from water
[wikipedia.org] – Molybdenum disulfide
[wikipedia.org] – Gibbs free energy

Lit Motors C1 Still Alive

All wonderful these electric 5-seater “family cars”. The truth is that in a country like Holland average occupation rate is 1.25, that is a factor of 4 less than the true capacity of the standard car. Why not accept reality and concentrate on vehicles that are tailor-made for single person transport. Enter the two-wheeled Lit Motors C1 prototype from a Californian startup. Why not embrace the transportation model of private ownership of a “high-end scooter” like the Lit Motors C1 for commuting or lite shopping, combined with the occasional renting of a self-driving car for multiple persons?

Estimated base price: $24,000

[litmotors.com] – Official site
[wikipedia.org] – Lit Motors
[wikipedia.org] – Gyrocar

Energy Storage With Gravity Train

Here an alternative approach to pumped hydro storage: sending a train with heavy concrete load up and down a hill. Once pushed to the hill top, energy can be won back via regenerative braking. Round trip efficiency 80%. Weight individual train: 300 ton. Planned track in a desert in Nevada will have a length of 9.2 km with an elevation of 640 m. Optimal slope: 7.2%.

[interestingengineering.com] – Concrete Gravity Trains May Solve Storage Problem

Vestas and Tesla to Combine Forces

The world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer Vestas wants to add storage facilities to its wind farms, hence the new relationship with battery manufacturer Tesla. With an ever increasing installed base of wind power, with a supply of electricity that is inherently variable, storage is becoming increasingly important.

Tesla wants to expands its customer base and move beyond car batteries and home powerwalls.

[bloomberg.com] – Vestas Joins With Tesla to Combine Wind Turbines With Batteries
[windpowermonthly.com] – Vestas confirms Tesla joint project

US Offshore Wind About to Take Off

Inspired by the success of offshore wind in the North Sea, prospects for offshore wind to take off in the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico look good.

This push may be enough to usher a multi-gigawatt surge in US offshore wind development, led by the first commercial wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, commissioned in December 2016. With well-capitalized and experienced offshore wind developers such as Dong Energy, Statoil and Iberdrola eager to demonstrate their 15 years of European offshore wind know-how, it is likely that positive offshore wind market forces can be sustained in the US in the upcoming years… there is a potential capacity for more than 14GW of offshore wind in sites already leased on the US outer continental shelf, which could spark investments of up to $50bn if fully developed.

[rechargenews.com] – Gulf of Mexico will benefit from coming wave of US offshore

Read more…

Goldman-Sachs – Peak Oil Demand 2024, not 2040

Goldman-Sachs produced a report saying that peak-oil demand could be upon us as early as 2024, in the “extreme case”. Causes: increased vehicle efficiency, e-vehicle penetration and lower economic growth. Expected 2030 e-vehicle fleet: 86 million, up from 2 million today.

[businessinsider.com] – Goldman Sachs warns of peak oil demand
[wsj.com] – Get Ready for Peak Oil Demand

Lithium Not Goodenough – Solid State Batteries For Electric Cars

Prof Goodenough is no quitter

If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m Ninety-four?

(Free after The Beatles)

Prof. Goodenough (94) doesn’t know when to stop. And why should he? Where mere mortals usually “live up” to this label at 94, prof Goodenough still soldiers on and has announced a battery breakthrough that could defeat the lithium-ion battery, nota bene his own brainchild.

His team has developed an all-solid-state battery cell and the expectation is that this could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries with three times higher energy density per unit of volume compared to lithium-ion, to be applied in mobile gadgets, e-vehicles as well as in utility-size electricity storage.

[news.utexas.edu] – Introduction of New Technology for Fast-Charging, Noncombustible Batteries
[pubs.rsc.org] – Alternative strategy for a safe rechargeable battery
[wikipedia.org] – John B. Goodenough
[wikipedia.org] – Glass battery

Read more…

Cummins All Electric Class 7 Truck Revealed

US truck power train manufacturer Cummins announced yesterday the Class 7 electric truck prototype named AEOS. Parameters: 145 kWh battery and a 100 miles range for a 22 ton trailer. Recharging takes an hour. Production date is 2019.

[gas2.com] – Cummins All Electric Class 7 Truck Revealed
[wikipedia.org] – Cummins

Efficiency Breakthrough Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Dendrites are the enemy of Lithium-Ion batteries

Lithium-Ion batteries could be far more efficient, were it not that they need to be “sabotaged” on purpose, by “diluting” the cathode with graphene in order to prevent the growth of stalactite-like structures called dendrites on the cathode surface, see picture. Dendrites eventually cause the battery to fail, so this outgrowth needs to be prevented with comes at the cost of storage capacity up to a factor of 10.

Researchers at Drexel University, Tsinghua University in Beijing and Hauzhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China have developed an approach to eliminate the need for graphene by working with nanosized diamonds added to the electrolyte inside the battery. This suppresses dendrite growth at least during the first 100 charge-discharge cycles.

Commercial applications are probably several years away.

[nature.com] – Nanodiamonds suppress the growth of lithium
dendrites
[drexel.edu] – Recipe for Safer Batteries — Just Add Diamonds
[cleantechnica.com] – Potential Lithium-Ion Battery Breakthrough
[newscenter.lbl.gov] – Roots of the Lithium Battery Problem… Dendrites
[phys.org] – Technique to suppress dendrite growth in lithium metal batteries
[electronicproducts.com] – ..dendrites… why do they cause fires in lithium batteries?

Read more…

Stanford – Global Road Map 100% Renewable Energy

We reported earlier about the Stanford report, claiming that a 100% renewable energy base is possible for the US or 138 other nations.

Here is the report itself plus some interesting graphs:

[stanford.edu] – Stanford report: 100% Renewable Energy For 139 Nations [pdf p201]
[deepresource] – Is a 100% Renewable Energy Base Possible?

Footprint 100% global renewable energy base: 1.7 million wind towers + 87k km2 solar panels (2 x Holland)

And the winner is… Tajikistan! Country ranking from 2015 renewable energy penetration in all energy sectors

Sif – The Wind Tower Company

In February 2015 Port of Rotterdam and Sif Group met during an exhibition in Hamburg. In June of that year the two parties signed a contract for the construction of the 500 meter long assembly- and the 120 meter long coatinghall from Sif.

October 24, 2015 the first pile of the hall and in April 2016 the first pile of the deep sea quay was driven into the ground. The construction of the halls went smooth so the first cans and cones from Roermond were delivered in September for assembly. In December, the 200 meter deep deepsea quay was finished and in January 2017 the first load-out of monopiles took place.

Thanks to the excellent cooperation between the Port of Rotterdam and Sif Group we realized a new production facility in just 14 months. Through this production expansion Sif is perfectly equipped to produce 4-5 monopiles per week with a diameter up to 11 meters.

That would be 5 x 6 MW = 30 MW per week or 1.5 GW per year or 50 GW until 2050, when Europe needs to be fossil free. Companies like Sif exist in Germany, Denmark and Spain, see below for an overview of the European (=global) offshore wind foundation industry.

Current Dutch electricity production capacity is 28,7 GW. Assuming a capacity factor of 50% of North Sea offshore wind, this current Sif production capacity would suffice to achieve electricity independence for The Netherlands in 2050. The European monopile market in 2015 was 385 and 560 in 2016. In 2018, Sif alone will be able to produce ca. 250 monopiles. It is likely however that Sif will continue to expand far beyond that number in the coming years.

[sif-group.com] – Company site [Google Maps]
[sif-group.com] – Sif projects
[energieoverheid.nl] – Nederland heeft voorlopig genoeg elektriciteit beschikbaar
[sif-group.com] – De razendsnelle realisatie van Sif op de Maasvlakte 2
[offshorewind.biz] – Dutch Steel: Manufacturer Geared Up for Offshore Wind
[ewea.org] – The European offshore wind industry – key trends and statistics 2015
[windeurope.org] – The European offshore wind industry 2016
[tube-tradefair.com] – FA 07 Monopiles – gigantic pipes for offshore wind farms

European offshore foundation market 2016

References to the producers listed in the diagram according to production capacity:

[de.wikipedia.org] – Erndtebrücker Eisenwerk, Erndtebrück, Germany [Google Maps]
[steelwind-nordenham.de] – Steelwind Nordenham, Germany [Google Maps]
[ambau.com] – Ambau, Mellensee, Germany [Google Maps]
[bladt.dk] – Bladt Industries, Aalborg, Denmark [Google Maps]
[navantia.es] – Navantia, Ría de Ferrol, Spain [Google Maps]

Read more…

Renewable Intermittency – Continental Scale is the Solution

[source]

Here an interview with Dr Gregor Czisch, a consultant specializing in energy supply at the firm Transnational Renewables Consulting. Dr. Czisch likes to think big. His area of expertise and passion is to design a big picture for renewable energy. On a continental scale no less. The largest hindrance of large scale implementation of renewable energy is its intermittent character: no solar energy at night or during periods of cloudy skies and rain or several days of no wind worth mentioning. The problem is not so much producing large amounts of kWh’s in a renewable fashion, the problem is to make supply meet demand. Although there is still much room for further improvement of wind and solar energy production, in essence we have reached a mature state of technology already. The bottleneck currently is storage.

To make a long story short: according to Dr. Czisch a major contribution to breaking down hurdles standing in the way of a 100% renewable energy future would be to strive for a “super grid” on o continental scale. Both in Europe and America. The greatest obstacle in realizing that aim is of a political nature, not technical.

Dr. Czisch has made mathematical models for both Europe and the United States that show that the larger the integrated area of renewable energy generation is, the lesser intermittency will be a problem.

[germaninnovation.org] – Talking about the Super Grid
[deepresource] – The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea
[isesco.org.ma] – Supergrids for Balancing Variable Renewables
[solarwerkstatt.org] – Vollversorgung aus erneuerbaren Energien
[de.wikipedia.org] – Gregor Czisch

Dr. Czisch’s vision for a renewable energy future for Europe.

[amazon.com] – Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply: CostOptimised Variations on Supplying Europe and its Neighbours with Electricity from Renewable Energies

Intel in Autonomous Cars

The traditional car companies should take care that newcomers won’t make if off with the loot. After Tesla, Google and Apple we now have Intel trying its luck with autonomous vehicles:

Mobileye, an Intel Company, will start building a fleet of fully autonomous (level 4 SAE) vehicles for testing in the United States, Israel and Europe. The first vehicles will be deployed later this year, and the fleet will eventually scale to more than 100 automobiles.

About the SAE autonomous driving level system:

  • Level 0: No Automation. That’s you dear reader and your shabby 1985 Ford Mustang GT.
  • Level 1: Driver Assistance. Environment info resulting in some level of steering and/or accelerating/decelerating; the driver is still in charge.
  • Level 2: Partial Automation. The system performs the basic tasks, but the driver is supposed to supervise it all.
  • Level 3: Conditional Automation. System in control. Driver can be requested to intervene.
  • Level 4: High Automation. Sometimes the driver can be requested to intervene, but no hazards if the driver doesn’t.
  • Level 5: Full Automation. The driver just has to step in and can take a nap and still expect to be delivered at the final destination.

[intel.com] – Intel … to Build Fleet of 100 L4 Autonomous Test Cars
[autobahn.eu] – De 5 ‘levels’ van autonoom rijden
[mercedes-benz.com] – Autonomous long distance drive
[sae.org] – Automated driving

The autonomous driving car level system (click to enlarge)

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